Monday, July 19, 2010

Quotes of the day

What will happen next? We have no idea.--Greenlight Capital

... life works best when we defend love. This means we defend the innocent, we defend brotherhood, we defend romantic love, and we identify and defend that which is pure.--Donald Miller

I shall pursue either with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both:
1.) To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London or, perchance…
2.) To see to it the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.
Your most obedient servant, Wellington

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.--Dana Priest and William Arkin

Slightly better planning by the terrorists could have multiplied the deaths by a factor of 10. The next big attack could easily be bigger by a factor of 100. And if you think Americans "overreacted" the first time, wait and see what they'll support the next time around. Liberals and libertarians who impede decisive action now are probably paving the way for worse things to come - a downward spiral that makes World War I look benign by comparison. I wish it weren't so, but that's the sad world we live in.--Bryan Caplan, channeling a conservative missionary

When government "solves" dubious problems by dubious means, abolition - not moderation - is the sober solution. And the burden of proof shouldn't fall on those who oppose the status quo, but on those who deprive their fellow human beings of their liberty.--Bryan Caplan, channeling a libertarian missionary

... surgical patients on Medicaid are 13% more likely to die than those with no insurance at all, and 97% more likely to die than those with private insurance.--Avik Roy

Purchasing green products may license indulgence in self-interested and unethical behaviors.--Nina Mazar

I’ve long thought that Tiger Woods (unlike many great athletes) does not feed off of being UNDERESTIMATED, but quite the opposite — he feeds off of being OVERESTIMATED.--Joe Posnanski

What is to stop the Fed from cutting NGDP in half, producing 10% annual deflation and 25% unemployment? They did it once before. You say the Congressional mandate wouldn’t allow the Fed to do that? Then precisely explain to me why the Fed is allowed do what they are currently doing.--Scott Sumner

The White House is claiming that the so-called stimulus created between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs even though total employment has dropped by more than 2.3 million since Obama took office. The Administration justifies this legerdemain by asserting that the economy actually would have lost about 5 million jobs without the new government spending. I’ve decided to adopt this clever strategy to spice up my social life. Next time I see my buddies, I’m going to claim that I enjoyed a week of debauchery with the Victoria’s Secret models. And if any of them are rude enough to point out that I’m lying, I’ll simply explain that I started with an assumption of spending -7 nights with the supermodels. And since I actually spent zero nights with them, that means a net of +7. Some of you may be wondering whether it makes sense to begin with an assumption of “-7 nights,” but I figure that’s okay since Keynesians begin with the assumption that you can increase your prosperity by transferring money from your left pocket to your right pocket.--Dan Mitchell

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This famous dictum of Lord Acton is as relevant today as it was when stated in 1887. It applies to the private sector, such as private monopolies, as well as the public sector, but this insight has become much more important in the public sector since he wrote because of the large expansion of governmental powers during the past 70 years. I would only add to Acton’s dictum that discretionary power is even more corrupting than the power embodied in regulations. The most dangerous trend in presidential power has been the growth in presidential willingness to take many discretionary actions that not only have little basis in law, but also frequently cause great harm to the economy and the society at large. The harm consists of both the direct damages from the actions, and the often large but indirect cost from the increased uncertainty and fear about the political environment faced by business, unions, and other groups. ... It is still too early to evaluate the long-term harm from the president’s use of excessive authority against BP. However, the general anti-business tone of the current Congress and presidency that is reflected not only in various discretionary acts by the president, but also in proposed and actual legislation, such as the health care law, controls over executive pay, and the Dodd-Frank bill, are already slowing down the recovery from the financial crisis and recession. ... Unemployment has remained sluggishly high in part because both small and large companies have been reluctant to take on additional employees in an uncertain and threatening environment. Perhaps that is good politics, but the use of presidential and congressional powers against business is surely not good economics.--Gary Becker

... part of me worries that the the much-vaunted flexibility of the U.S. labor market is a thing of the past. Robert Fogel tells us that the three long-term superior goods are leisure, health care, and education. Obviously, an increase in leisure does not increase employment, although it certainly creates opportunities in complementary goods and services. But health care and education in the U.S. are arguably the most cartelized labor markets in the world. How many entrepreneurial ideas in those fields are rendered implausible by credentialing issues? If you want your innovative school to draw customers, you have to get accredited--not to mention dealing with the fact that your competition gets public funds and you do not. Your innovative health care delivery process will run afoul of medical license and practice laws. We probably could be retraining lots of unemployed workers to serve the education and health care industries in productive ways. But the credentials bottleneck is very restrictive.--Arnold Kling

Possibly Mr. Kelley regrets that the homicide rate in modern society is far lower – as much as 90 percent lower – than in pre-modern societies? Perchance he laments modernity’s liberation of women from the oppressive dominance of men? Maybe he finds fault with modern humans’ greater skepticism of tales of witches and sentient volcanoes? Or perhaps Mr. Kelley is upset simply because modernity has eradicated slavery? Being only 26 years old in modern society, Mr. Kelley has many decades left to reject his fashionable romantic nonsense about a past Golden Age. Were he born just a few generations earlier, however, not only would he have been unable to earn a living as an artist, his own stint in humanity would have been much shorter.--Don Boudreaux

Every few days at The Washington Post, staffers get a notice like this: "Please welcome Dylan Feldman-Suarez, who will be joining the fact-integration team as a multiplatform idea triage specialist, reporting to the deputy director of word-flow management and video branding strategy. Dylan comes to us from the social media utilization division of Sikorsky Helicopters." Call me a grumpy old codger, but I liked the old way better. For one thing, I used to have at least a rudimentary idea of how a newspaper got produced: On deadline, drunks with cigars wrote stories that were edited by constipated but knowledgeable people, then printed on paper by enormous machines operated by people with stupid hats and dirty faces. ... I basically like "comments," though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots.--Gene Weingarten

And so you come, at the end of your running and rending of flesh, to faith, which long ago came to you. It is weight and it is light and it is knowing. It is belief in the midst of unbelief, quiet truth uttered after lies. It is waiting, it is silent prayer. It is whispered thanks for the way your child sighs in his sleep, and for wind that soughs the trees. It is knowing you are unforgotten. It is what bears you homeward.--Tony Woodlief

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